The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority's (MMDA) traffic czar on EDSA, Edison Bong Nebrija, has a theory as to where the clamor to bring back the number coding scheme is coming from.
According to the traffic disciplinarian, the calls to revive the agency’s traffic management scheme may be coming from Filiponos who have more than one vehicle. In other words, they can work around the limitations that would be imposed by number coding and practically stay on the road whenever they want to.
"Eh marami po kasing nagsasabi dyan na 'Ibalik na natin ang number coding,' kasi may pang-number coding po silang sasakyan. Ibig sabihin, 'pag number coding 'yung sasakyan nila, mayroon silang spare. Eh pangit naman po iyon (A lot of people have been saying, 'Bring back number coding,' and it's because they have a vehicle for that. Meaning, they have a spare vehicle. That's not a good look)," Nebrija told SMNI News in an interview over the weekend.
"Kawawa naman po 'yung mga kababayan natin lalo na 'yung mga nasa hospital na iisa lang sasakyan. Actually, isa lang 'yung sasakyan for the whole family...mahirap po pag isa lang ang sasakyan (I pity our countrymen--especially those who have to go to the hospital--who only have one vehicle. Having just one vehicle is difficult if the whole family uses i)," he noted.
"Kaya po siguro yung mga napeperwisyo dyan na maraming sasakyan, yun po siguro yung nagsasabi na ibalik na natin yung number coding. Because we have numbers to show to hindi pa po natin kailangan (That’s why I think that those clamoring for number coding are the motorists being inconvenienced right now. Because we have numbers to show that we still don't need it)," he explained.
Nebrija had earlier bared that the average daily vehicle volume on EDSA this July has hit 399,000--very close to the December 2019 average of 405,000. For context, the latter figure is not only pre-pandemic; it also shows the level of Christmas season traffic at that time.
The number coding scheme, officially termed the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP), was suspended over a year ago during the initial implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). The ECQ was meant to limit the movement of Filipinos amid the threat of the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The UVVRP bans 20 percent of all vehicles from roads once a week based on the last digit of its license plate.
While the eye test alone shows that traffic on EDSA has been at its tightest ever since the pandemic began, Nebrija insists that vehicles are "still moving" unlike rush hours before.
"According to our traffic engineering, it's still favorable considering the volume that we have and the travel speed and travel time that we have, pwede pa ho (it's still manageable). It is still moving," the traffic czar said.
Nebrija and MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos have both argued against the return of the number coding, at least for now.
Another key personality on Metro traffic matters, House Committee on Metro Manila Development chairman and Manila Rep. Manny Lopez, also thumbed down the immediate lifting of the suspension on UVVRP.
"I believe that we are still living under a pandemic state. Regulations should still be implemented until we attain herd immunity. Government should still implement rules to prevent the disease from . Until that status is attained, movement as declared by government should still be regulated," Lopez said.
Public utility vehicles (PUVs) like jeepneys and buses have maintained to this day the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF)-prescribed maximum capacity of just 50 percent since 2020. Metro Manila is now under the more lax general community quarantine or GCQ.
A video of Nebirja's entire SMNI interview can be found here.